Today, LG’s Display division has said that there is still no confirmation for Google’s alleged intent to invest over $870 million for use in the smartphone manufacturers display production facilities. The investment offer was first reported on yesterday and is purported to come in response to the current shortage in flexible organic light-emitting diode panels (OLED) on a global scale. The vast majority of current OLED displays for smartphones specifically are made by Samsung and it has been said that Google is looking to expand on that in order to prevent the shortages from becoming a long-term problem – especially since OLED displays are rapidly overtaking LCD displays on smart devices. Unfortunately, according to LG Display via a regulatory filing, nothing has yet been decided on the issue, despite a growing number of clients showing interest in “flexible OLED with the market’s expansion recently.”
The funding itself, if and once the deal is finalized, is expected to bolster the world’s supply of OLED displays by ramping up production at LG’s Korean plants. To date, LG has invested just over $1.1 billion and $1.7 billion respectively in its two flexible OLED plants in Gumi, North Gyeongsang Province, and Paju, Gyeonggi Province. Google’s reported offer to invest $870 million to spur further production also comes around the time when Google is expected to announce its next mainstay Android Device – at Google I/O 2017 – leading to some speculation that, with Samsung’s hands mostly tied up with producing for other smartphone manufacturers, the search giant is looking to source its OLED panels for the next Pixel device from LG. Sources have also said that talks have been ongoing for around two years, but that Google has recently toned down on its dominating role in the discussions in order to get the deal moving forward. That may lend some credence to the speculation about display sourcing for the next Pixel device.
However, both of LG’s plants are set to become operational in fairly short order with the Gumi plant slated to begin production in quarter three of this year and Paju in early 2018. If Google plans to release its next Pixel this year, those dates may present a problem for the idea that they will source its screen from LG. Unfortunately, this is still just conjecture, at least until either company confirms that a deal has been reached or whether Google plans to source the next Pixel’s panels from LG.